In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Early Childhood Education in Australia

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Child, Family, and Community Studies in Australia

Education Early Childhood Education in Australia
Marilyn Fleer
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 January 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0069


This entry brings together selected works on early childhood education from Australia. It seeks to provide an overview of leading articles, books, and chapters written by Australian scholars who have contributed significantly to the field of early childhood education. The topics covered in this overview represent the standard material that would be expected and looked for by those interested in early childhood education. The bibliography includes noteworthy textbooks used in Australia for supporting undergraduate education, as well as the major Australian-produced journals that are drawn upon by the field. The major theories that inform the profession are examined, alongside leading research on professional learning at both the in-service and undergraduate level.

General Overviews

Early childhood education in Australia covers the period from birth to eight years. An overview of strategic planning for Australia in education and care can be downloaded for free through Council of Australian Governments 2009. The Commonwealth of Australia has invested heavily in streamlining the regulation of care and education services within Australia through the introduction of a new quality assurance process and a national curriculum framework, while also undertaking workforce planning so that all preschools and long-day-care settings have university-degree-qualified staff. Important studies for the field include Edwards, et al. 2008 and Wilks, et al. 2008. Sumsion, et al. 2009 was critical for the development of a new national curriculum. Grieshaber and Ryan 2006 and Ryan and Grieshaber 2005 advocate for a range of post-structuralist theories for learning, including cultural-historical theory. New theories of child development and pedagogical practice support the conceptual shift that the field is currently facing in Australia, as outlined in Fleer 2010, Grieshaber and Ryan 2006, and Ryan and Grieshaber 2005. Important to the implementation of the national strategy is the learning and development of Indigenous children, as shown in Giugni and Mundine 2012.

  • Council of Australian Governments. 2009. Investing in the Early Years: A National Early Childhood Development Strategy. Canberra: Council of Australian Governments.

    This important government document outlines the national strategy for early childhood education and development for Australia. See the Policy Agenda for a full overview, and the DEEWR Early Childhood Development Strategy page for a brief outline.

  • Edwards, Susan, Marilyn Fleer, and Joce Nuttall. 2008. A research paper to inform the development of the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Melbourne: Office for Children and Early Childhood Development, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

    A foundational document for framing curriculum in Australia, designed to feed into the development of the first national Early Years Learning Framework.

  • Fleer, Marilyn. 2010. Early learning and development: Cultural-historical concepts in play. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    This book examines play and child development from a cultural-historical/sociocultural perspective. New concepts in early childhood pedagogy and child development are presented.

  • Giugni, Miriam, and Kerry Mundine, eds. 2012. Talkin’ up and speakin’ out: Aboriginal and multicultural voices in early childhood. Mt. Victoria, Australia: Pademelon.

    This important book brings together many Indigenous voices regarding inclusivity and diversity as central to the early childhood curriculum. Social justice is discussed explicitly.

  • Grieshaber, Susan, and Sharon Ryan. 2006. Beyond certainties: Postmodern perspectives, research, and education of young children. In Handbook of research on the education of young children. 2d ed. Edited by Bernard Spodek and Olivia N. Saracho, 533–554. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    In drawing upon postmodern theories, this chapter gives an excellent overview of the central concepts informing early childhood education in Australia.

  • Ryan, Sharon, and Susan J. Grieshaber, eds. 2005. Practical transformations and transformational practices: Globalization, postmodernism, and early childhood education. Advances in Early Education and Day Care 14. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    This edited book goes beyond a critique of developmental theory and puts forward postmodern ideas for transforming early childhood education. A central theme is the concept of enacting pedagogies, where the authors seek to attune readers to contemporary situations and practices that shape the lives of young children.

  • Sumsion, Jennifer, Sally Barnes, Sandra Cheeseman, Linda Harrison, Anne Kennedy, and Anne Stonehouse. 2009. Insider perspectives on developing Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood 34.4: 4–13.

    This seminal paper outlines the political and policy context that brought about the development and release of the first national early childhood curriculum for Australia. Principles and decision points are given.

  • Wilks, Anne, Berenice Nyland, Barbara Chancellor, and Susan Elliot. 2008. Analysis of curriculum/learning frameworks for the early years (birth to age 8). Melbourne: Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority.

    A foundational document for giving context for curriculum development in Australia, designed to support the development of the first national Early Years Learning Framework.

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